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Friday Night Lights

I have nothing but love and respect for Montoursville’s J.C. Keefer. The old-school football coach and I go back a long time. He has been a good chum over the years. I don’t get to see him much, but I will occasionally spot him at a local diamond. J.C. also loves the game of baseball and he mentors his kid’s travel ball teams. I admire his enthusiasm. He definitely has a gift. J.C. has an exceptional knowledge and gets the most out of his teams. Regardless of the sport.

I reached out to Coach Keefer. I sent him a quick note to tell him that I recently got the call. My friends at Webb Weekly asked if I would help broadcast a few high school games this fall. I wanted to talk with J.C. about his home opener. Something that I have done many times before. We had a great conversation that covered several topics. Mostly sports and fishing. Coach Keefer has a way with words. It was so good to hear his voice. I’m not a football guy, but after fifteen minutes I was ready to break something or tackle someone. Thankfully I was home alone.

“It has been different,” Keefer explained. “But to our team’s credit we have made the proper adjustments. The pandemic has shifted the way we do things, and we have been doing what we can to stay safe. The kids are used to it. Temperature checks since June. They seem to understand it. I can’t tell you how proud I am.”

Coach Keefer and the 2020 Warriors are in unprecedented times. COVID-19 has changed the entire landscape but they are taking it in stride. Montoursville is currently in a hybrid phase. They are only sending students to school two days per and the future is unknown. We have all needed to make sacrifices, and J.C.’s players are not immune. Life is totally different, and this veteran coach understands the challenge.

“People say this all the time,” Keefer expanded. “Play tonight like it’s your last. It might sound cliche. But that is really the case. We don’t know what will happen tomorrow. We can only control what we do today. My kids get that. We don’t need to talk about it. I was really impressed with our energy in our scrimmage last week. We came out ready to play. I am also pleased with our overall intensity in practice. Difficult when only half of your team is in school each day, but I really haven’t noticed any major change.”

Things will be different this fall as our local school districts are struggling with protocols. Loyalsock Area and South Side had to postpone the first two games. Coaches and players will need to quarantine. Unprecedented and unpredictable times. Boards are doing their very best to come up with the best policies. I continue to praise and pray for these administrations who are forced to make many tough decisions. There are surely no right or wrong answers, and I feel terrible for these kids. Spectators remains a hot topic. Last week I gave you my thoughts. One of the reasons why I decided to come out of retirement was to bring the parents and fans as many games as we can.

“That’s a tough one,” Keefer acknowledged. “I’m a parent and I totally get it. If my boy was playing, I would feel the same way. We’ve done our very best here at Montoursville. I applaud our administration for coming up with a plan. We are hoping to give tickets to all of our senior parents. We also did the same with our opponent’s team. We have a beautiful stadium and we are able to spread out. We haven’t really talked about it as a team. I am sure it is on their minds, but we are just thankful for being able to play under the lights. It could be a lot worse.”

Special thanks to Coach Keefer for the chat. I wish the 2020 Warriors the best of luck and beyond. I look forward to calling your game. Hopefully we will see each other again. Kudos and props to ALL of our local teams. We will get through this. Cheers.

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